It’s a short week due to the NBA All-Star festivities that are set to take place this weekend in Orlando, but there are still some solid matchups to take a look at before the weekend. As the first half of the fantasy season comes to an end, getting a few more points in your win column before the break is certainly something that could prove helpful as we get closer to playoff seeding.
So let’s take a look back at some of the best performances last week and a few guys to watch for as we close out the first half of the 2011-12 NBA season.
Fantasy Performance of the Week: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets
Oh, Kevin Durant. What else is there to say, really? Durant had himself a career-night against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, scoring 51 points while pulling down eight rebounds and passing out three assists. To make things even more impressive Durant snagged four steals as well. It ended up being one of the most impressive fantasy performances of the season, and was leaving Durant’s fantasy owners giddy all over the world.
Usually we just have one player, but there were three guys on the Thunder that night that deserve recognition. Obviously Durant’s stats were spectacular, but he wasn’t the only one. Russell Westbrook put up 40 points of his own, as well as nine assists and four rebounds. Wow.
For the Thunder trifecta we have Serge Ibaka, who got himself a triple-double in that same game, but not in the way you’re thinking. Ibaka had 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 blocks. Yes, blocks. Unreal.
This leaves a very glaring question, do you have any players facing the Denver Nuggets this week? If so, start them!
Fantasy Dud of the Week: Rajon Rondo vs. Detroit Pistons
The same night Durant & Co. were beating up on the Nuggets the Celtics were facing the Pistons. Unfortunately point guard Rajon Rondo didn’t hang around for the entire game. After shooting 1-6 in 28 minutes and scoring just five points (he did dish out 11 assists albeit with six turnovers), Rondo threw the ball at an official and got himself ejected. To make matters worse for his fantasy owners Rondo was then suspended for two games because of his little tantrum.
Isaiah Thomas: Sacramento Kings
Thomas isn’t going to give you spectacular numbers, but at this point in the season it’s pretty much all about finding whatever bit of productivity that isn’t already on a roster. Thomas has earned the starting point guard slot in Sacramento, and has some talent around him that could boost his assist numbers. He’s only averaging 2.8 right now, but if you’re in desperate need of a point guard with some upside he might be worth looking at.
Steve Blake: Los Angeles Lakers
To keep with the point guard theme we just went over I’ll stick Blake into this slot. Blake’s minutes have been steadily increasing since returning from a rib injury. The growing inefficiency of Derek Fisher results in more playing time for Blake. He seems to be getting the hang of Mike Brown’s system, too, as he scored 17 points against Portland on Monday night. That was the highest point total of his two years with the Lakers.
J.J. Redick: Orlando Magic
With Jason Richardson out of the lineup due to chest pains Redick has taken advantage of his additional playing time. He’s been averaging over 30 minutes per game recently, and as long as Richardson remains sidelined he’s a solid bench option. He may not offer much in terms of rebounds or assists, but there’s that chance he could get hot from outside and put up 20 points occasionally. Just make sure you check out the matchup before sticking him in your starting lineup.
Raymond Felton: Portland Trail Blazers
At this point I doubt Felton has a lot of fantasy owners left, but after news came down Tuesday that Portland was benching him for Jamal Crawford I’m sure the rest of those clinging to Felton (many of whom probably reside in Portland) jump ship. Felton has been having a dismal season thus far, although still is averaging 10 points and six assists. But with the majority of his minutes now being given to Crawford expect those to drop.
Marreese Speights: Memphis Grizzlies
I actually had trouble deciding if he would be in the rising or falling stock category this week. With the news that Zach Randolph is expected back on March 7, Speights’ productivity is going to practically disappear very soon. However, he does still have a few weeks before Randolph’s back and fully healthy. I put him in the falling stock purely because Randolph’s return is inevitable, but if you have Speights make sure you hang onto him for at least a couple more weeks.
Jeremy Lin: New York Knicks
Before you all throw me into the fire for stating that Lin might be anything but fantastic give me a minute to explain. Lin’s numbers have certainly been unbelievable so far, but there are several things working against him right now. It was nearly impossible to believe that Lin would keep up his amazing numbers all season even if the roster remained the same. But, with Amar’e Stoudemire, and now Carmelo Anthony, back in the lineup you can expect Lin’s numbers to decrease. He is certainly still worth starting in most leagues, just don’t expect his numbers to be as eye-popping as they were his first eight games.